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I'm a data warehouse project manager.

By
  • Larissa Moss, Chuck Kelley, Clay Rehm, Nancy Williams
Published
  • March 13 2003, 1:00am EST
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Q:

I'm a data warehouse project manager. My team is understaffed. I've read and attended conferences where it's made clear to me that I need more experienced and trained people for my team. How can I convince management? By the way, we have a hiring freeze.

A:

Chuck Kelley's Answer: Is it possible to get training? Maybe you can chose a consultant or consulting organization that can come in and train your team. Another option is to bring a consultant in one week a month to guide the team through the process of building the data warehouse. Regardless of which way you choose, I hope that you have plenty of time in your schedule for the building of the data warehouse.

The question is still, how can I convince management? First you need to make sure they understand the benefits of a data warehouse and why it is valuable to your organization. If no one can look forward and see this, then maybe your organization is not ready. Then do the best job you can do with the people you have. While there will be growing pains, at least you will learn something new everyday. Choose a small area to be the first iteration of your data warehouse. Make sure there is someone in the business group that understands the value. This person can become your champion. Do everything that you can to make sure that this first iteration is successful, beyond the champion's dreams (this may be easier said than done). By doing this, you may be able to convince management (by showing them), the value of the data warehouse, hence freeing up some funds.

Larissa Moss' Answer: The book Impossible Data Warehouse Situations by Sid Adelman, et. al, published by Addison Wesley, ISBN 0-201-76033-9 addresses over 90 common "impossible situations," several of which are about organizational and staffing problems. My guess is that other problems described in Sid's book are also present at this company, seeing that inadequate staffing is only one of many symptoms that are evident in companies that don't view their data warehouse as a vital cross-organizational business intelligence core competency.

Clay Rehm's Answer: If your team is understaffed, than the output you produce should match. This means you should not push your team to produce more than they normally could. You will burn them out, and you will give management false expectations on what can be accomplished with your team. At the same time, I would look to bring in training for your existing staff. Instead of looking at large firms, try contacting independent contractors who you may run into at your local chapter meetings to organizations you belong such as DAMA (www.dama.org), PMI (www.pmi.org) and ICCP (www.iccp.org).

Nancy Williams' Answer: Unfortunately, this is a very common problem. Many organizations expect that the current technical staff will support data warehousing initiatives in addition to their current operational system responsibilities. It is not uncommon to find the same technical staff responsible for the development and support of operational systems as well as the development and support of the data warehouse. One way to convince management that your current staff cannot perform all of the required duties is to develop project plans that detail activities and schedules as well as skills required for those activities. You can then begin putting names next to the project activities and determine where there are holes. Some of the holes may be able to be addressed by providing current staff with training and/or hiring consultants to provide short-term technical mentoring. The other holes may point out the need to bring more staff onboard or to augment staff with contractors or consultants due to the hiring freeze. If management will not agree to this, you can extend the project schedules to show when the projects are scheduled to be completed with existing staff resources.

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